Guest post from Chimera 4 Way Formation Skydiving Team, the current reigning 4 way champions
Thank you all for attending the Chimera Scrambles at Skydive Langar. We loved organising it and hope you had a good weekend.
We have gathered some general tips and advice based on what we saw at the Scrambles and hope you’ll find all of this useful.
In four way, it’s important to consider the goal of each exit – which is, simply put, to have everyone land on the ‘hill’ at the same time and at the same angle.
This isn’t as simple as it might sound, though. It requires each member to consider where they are starting – i.e. where they are in the door – and therefore where they need to go to align with their teammates.
Point – this flyer needs to start off well inside the plane, expecting to be facing the pillar of the door. Don’t expect to be able to get your head or shoulders outside of the plane, and that’s OK. Your aim is to jump up and above the team, the intention being that you present your torso to the relative wind and are looking down the hill toward tail
Tail – being the rear floater on the exit (most of the time) means that this person’s role is to be the lowest on the hill, looking up toward point. In order to make this true, they need to leave slightly earlier than the rest of the team, or be hanging low in the door to create that space (in which case, they leave at the same time). Big presentation and some leg pressure which ensure this person is stable and working toward the centre of the team
Inside centre – this flyer is ideally placed to do the ‘key’ or the count which tells people when to leave the aircraft. They go ‘on’ their key – meaning they leave with their own timing (which isn’t true for everyone). Typically, their role is to drop down into the gap left by the floaters and to present themselves while being heavy and lower on the hill than the point flyer
Outside centre – because this person is already in the airflow, in order to stay on the same level at inside centre, they need to leave slightly later on the key. They should see inside centre start to leave before they launch themselves, the goal being to land on the hill parallel to inside centre or slightly above them for the majority of exits
In any exit, the role of point and tail is to ensure the team is at the right angle on the hill and properly placed on it, while the inside and outside centres set the rotational angle – ideally, in most cases, we want no rotation, meaning the team lands on the hill with point at the top and tail at the bottom. Each individual plays an essential role in the overall team success.
The role of the exit key is to provide the team with the timing on which to leave the aircraft. In order to land on the hill at the same time, the team needs to consider where they are in the airflow when they setup in the door.
Because outside centre (OC) and tail are already in the airflow, they are not well placed to give the key – if they did, the inside centre and point would be playing catch up as OC and tail fall away.
Instead, we prefer to have inside centre (IC) give the count, meaning that tail can go early, OC can go late and point can go with them. It’s important that the key be clear to the whole team and that the IC leaves on their own count.
You may see four way teams doing a version of their count when they do their team handshake. While opinions are split on whether this is super cool or super lame (!), it does have a practical application; by practicing the exit key timing, the team is better prepared to get the timing right when they leave the plane.
Team flying and proximity
TThe key to 4 way success is not to fly ‘faster’ but to fly more precisely. Throughout all the ‘dirt dives’ (where you practice the formations on the creepers), consider where the centre point of each formation is and keep that centre point the same throughout. This will help you to recognise who needs to move where, and to share the moves between the team.
Ideally, we don’t want one person doing all the moving while the rest sit still. If there are times where one person has a bigger move than the others, it’s a good idea to consider where the ‘last grip’ is likely to be – based on who has the biggest move.
Someone is always going to be last on, but we can meter the moves across the rest of the group to account for this. For example, if OC has the biggest move and will therefore logically be the last to pick up their grip, the rest of the team can slow down their moves so everyone arrives on the grips together and off the groups together.
In any group flying situation, there will be hurdles and stumbling blocks along the way. If yours is a trained team, it’s likely you’ve already been through a process of matching fall rates and finding the best way to be together as a team, both on the ground and in the sky.
If you’re a new group – whether that’s a competition team or just a group of skydivers jumping together for the first time – there will be challenges in getting everyone together, especially when it comes to fall rate.
There are some things that will dictate fall rate, with the most prominent being drag – if you’re wearing a baggy jumpsuit, or have a lot of surface area, you may find you’re slower than those people with tighter suits or smaller surface area.
Weight can also play a part, especially in terminal velocity (the fastest falling speed) so to help people fall together, you can choose to wear a weight belt / baggier suit, depending what’s needed.
Getting into FS
Once you have your FS1+, the world of group skydiving really opens up! Here at Langar, we have lots of opportunities for you to get involved in FS, including the Langar League (3 way FS competition), our series of FS events and walk up load organising (where you turn up and put your name on the board to join in with organised group jumps).
There are also more UKSL events coming up through the season from British Skydiving, including the 4 Way National Championship, which is open to anyone with FS1+ or equivalent. It’s a great way to learn. And remember, we have a large team of some of the very best FS flyers in the country based right here at Langar. Speak to any instructor or FS coach and they will be able to help you along your FS journey, even if that’s just to show you some shapes you can try.